Women in Agriculture: Marty Ewing

At the age of seven, Marty Ewing knew she wanted to be a veterinarian. She imagined herself working with horses and companion animals. After veterinary school, she went into practice and did just that. Over time, however, her interests shifted towards food animals. Ewing felt that working with these animals was the best fit for her, as well as her family.

“Family is a big reason I got into poultry. My husband and I were both in practice when we found out we were having a child,” said Ewing, Director of Technical Services for Sanderson Farms. “If you’re going to have a kid, you can’t have both parents in careers where they may be called to emergency surgeries.”

Seeking a position with regular hours, Ewing applied to work for the Food Safety and Inspection Service, an agency of the United States Department of Agriculture. In the year Ewing worked for FSIS, she developed a special interest in the poultry industry. Ewing then went to work for the State of Florida Department of Agriculture. While employed there, she began working on a Master of Science degree from the University of Florida. Ewing went on to earn her second master’s degree in avian medicine and later, her doctorate in veterinary medicine from the University of Georgia.

Ewing spent time working for a poultry integrator in North Carolina, before taking a position at Sanderson Farms, where she has worked for the last 17 years. As Director of Technical Services, Ewing is responsible for overseeing all laboratory operations throughout the company. She works to ensure all Sanderson Farms facilities remain compliant with USDA and FSIS regulations and that the company’s quality assurance programs are functioning properly.

“It’s very family oriented at Sanderson Farms. Our company leaders recognize that the employee is not just the person who shows up at work – he or she represents the whole family,” said Ewing. “They are very helpful and understanding when needs arise.”

When she began working as a poultry production veterinarian, Ewing had few female counterparts across the industry. Today, the gender gap in this particular specialty is nearly closed. Research from the American Veterinary Medical Foundation shows that of all veterinarians working in the agriculture industry, 54.1% are male and 45.9% are female.

“We’ve seen a lot more female vets in poultry production within the last ten years,” said Ewing. “There used to be just five or six of us, and now there are 20 or 30 – I’ve lost count.”

Ewing’s advice to any young person interested in the agriculture industry is to always be inquisitive.

“Approach everything with an open mind, ask questions, and learn as much as you can. It’s important to be yourself and to respect others for who they are.”